What is mucormycosis and why is everyone talking about it? Mucormycosis, in medical terms known as zygomycosis is a serious deadly but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. It used to be a rare occurrence with hardly a few cases reported annually but the current picture is very disturbing and alarming! This deadly fungus is spreading at a rate even faster than cancer. There has been an increased incidence of this black fungus infection especially after the second wave of covid by nearly 62 times (6000%).
Who is catching this disease and why?
These groups of fungi (Mucomycetes) that cause mucormycosis, are present throughout the environment like air and soil and mainly, in association with decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, and animal dung. This infection is mainly caused when we inhale these spores and they start multiplying in our body tissues (especially ones in wet and warm environments).
It has always been around but has gained a lot of attention because of COVID-19. Immuno-competent patients (a person who has a healthy immune system) are not affected by them as their immunity can fight off these spores and doesn’t let the black fungus grow! Reduced immunity favors breeding grounds for the fungus to grow. This proves the statement by Dr. Paul saying “It’s not Covid, but the suppressed immunity that is causing this black fungus to breed”.
According to Dr. Gadre, the fungus is not sparing any particular category of people. Patients with really low immunity are getting affected by it. He further added the rate at which the fungus developed during the first wave of covid was about 3 – 3 and half weeks and post the second wave seems to trickle down to just 2 – 2 and half weeks.
The aggressive variant of the fungus
It could all start with your mouth!
Yes, symptoms could first appear in the mouth. So watch out for the symptoms. Sadly, as the immunity of patients suffering or recovering from Covid-19 is very low, they are catching mucormycosis very rapidly.
This is the aggressive variant of the fungus affecting the bones mainly the upper jaw as well as the sinus. Mucormycosis also could spread to the intracranial (brain and nervous system) tissues. If left untreated, it can cause blindness, cavernous sinus thrombosis, cerebral ischemia, infarction and death. Hence now we know why earlier in the first wave of covid people experienced weak eyesight post covid.
To add a more vulnerable group of people, ones with low WBC count, an HIV or cancer patient, or a patient who’s on immunosuppression steroids and other such heavy medications, especially if someone has uncontrolled diabetes mellitus are most at risk with this fungal infection.
Why is this disease so dangerous?
This fungal infection has a lot of affinity towards blood vessels and reaches them within no time. It causes necrosis(decaying) of blood vessels and tissues attached to it. This fungus, then, rapidly progresses to the next set of blood vessels and their tissues. It spreads faster than cancer and can cause havoc within 30-48 hours of initiation.
The most dangerous thing about this is the path it chooses to destroy our vital tissues. It invades the nose, maxilla, cheeks, eyes and brain. Soon, the vision is blurred/lost and rapid invasion in the brain causes death! Sadly, it spreads faster than cancer!
How do we know if we have caught the infection?
Firstly, if you are suffering from the following conditions, please be alert and observatory :
- Diabetes mellitus(high blood sugar)
- Neutropenia (Less number of white blood cells)
- Malignancy(cancer) eg. Leukaemia (Blood cancer)
- Recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis(uncontrolled diabetes mellitus characterized by a combination of ketosis and acidosis)
- Iron overload syndromes
- On corticosteroids.
Symptoms in the mouth
- Whitecoat on the tongue.
- Blackening of the tissues in the mouth
- Teeth suddenly becoming loose
- Swelling in the mouth
- Any numbness in the mouth or the lips
- Loss of taste
- Multiple ulcers in the mouth
- Pus oozing out of gums
Also observe for early symptoms like
- Runny nose
- Blackish or bloody discharge from on the nose
- Nasal congestion
- Pain near sinus or ear
- One-sided swelling of the eye
- Ulcers on your skin or inside of the mouth(mainly with the blackish floor)
- Black color formation on the skin(mainly face) or even inside the mouth
- Low-grade constant fever
- Blisters and redness
- Puffiness on the face
If you’re not able to figure out these early symptoms or confused about them, Dial us on our FREE 24*7 DENTAL HELPLINE for constant and continuous guidance from me and dental surgeons in my team. Also, you can download the scanO (formerly DentalDost) mobile app which helps you take pictures of relevant areas on face and mouth, scan them and gives you an instant diagnosis within seconds for free!
Treatment protocol and relevant drugs
The first steps in treating mucormycosis are receiving intravenous (IV) antifungal medications and having surgical debridement (cutting away all infected tissue to prevent the infection from spreading further)
If the response to IV therapy and surgery is good, we may give intra-oral meds for further recovery.
Common drugs proven efficient are –
- Liposomal amphotericin B (given through an IV) and the dose is almost three to five milligram per kilogram per day.
- Posaconazole IV/capsule
- Isavuconazole capsules
Precautions to be taken from home
The first and foremost thing to do is to keep the underlying condition under control by proper medications, diet and exercise. Immunocompromised patients should be wearing an N95 mask, mostly all the time as these fungal spores are present in the air.
Wear long sleeves clothes and gloves while going out on a walk or even while gardening/touching the soil to prevent spores from entering the body through the skin(mainly cuts). Do not wait to visit a doctor in person for follow-up checkups – Use our App/Helpline to get immediate teleconsultation and checkups.
How are we helping you?
Through our smart teleconsultation platform, dental surgeons are available 24*7 to keep your signs and symptoms under observation and inform you when to get the diagnosis like scans/cultures. Just scan your mouth and face through the DentalDost app or call us anytime on India’s first free dental helpline (7797555777) and discuss your symptoms with us.
We even help you in maintaining your oral cavity by guiding you the right way to brush, floss and mouthwash and give you reminders at the relevant time. We are present to offer a personalized dental surgeon for you, throughout the day and night, taking care of you.
Disclaimer: Watch at your own risk
- Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that has gained attention during the second wave of covid.
- This infection mostly affects people with reduced immunity.
- Diabetic people are most affected and they really need to be alert in observing their symptoms.
- This fungus spreads faster than cancer. So watch out for the symptoms.
- Early detection of this rapidly spreading fungus can help reduce its severity and helps recover from the disease in as less as 2 weeks.
- Ask for help on the DentalDost helpline number (7797555777) or simply scan your mouth on the DenatlDost App if you are unable to find out the symptoms by yourself.